Tennessee Basketball makes Major Hire

UT

Tennessee’s fortunes on the hardwood have never looked brighter, as Rick Barnes, the most decorated and accomplished head coach in school history, was handed the reins to the men’s basketball program on March 31, 2015.

The marriage of Barnes’ Hall of Fame-worthy resume — highlighted by 604 career Division I head coaching wins, the ninth-most among active coaches — and Tennessee’s world-class facilities, fervent fan base and outstanding athletic and academic resources, sets the Volunteers on a course to consistently compete for championships.

Rick Barnes is an elite basketball coach in every respect,” Tennessee Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Dave Hart said. “Rick brings an extremely impressive track record of excellence, as well as much-needed stability, to our men’s basketball program. This is an exciting day for our Tennessee family.”

In fitting with Hart’s mantra of “comprehensive excellence,” Barnes’ commitment to his players’ academic achievement cannot be overstated. His teams have posted a perfect 1,000 score in each of the last five multi-year APR reports as well as perfect single-year APR scores every year dating to 2005-06.

Immediately prior to Barnes’ arrival on Rocky Top, he oversaw a prolific, 17-year run at Texas that included 16 trips to the NCAA Tournament.

In 28 overall seasons as a Division I head coach, Barnes has led his teams to 22 total NCAA Tournament berths, six Sweet Sixteens, three Elite Eights and one Final Four in 2003.

He boasts coaching experience in Southeastern Conference (Alabama assistant, 1985-86), Big 10 (Ohio State assistant, 1986-87), Colonial Athletic Association (George Mason head coach, 1987-88), Big East (Providence head coach, 1988-1994), Atlantic Coast Conference (Clemson head coach, 1994-98) and Big 12 (Texas head coach, 1998-2015).

His success on the “power conference” sidelines is simply staggering. He coached Providence to three NCAA Tournament berths in six seasons. He then guided Clemson to the Big Dance three times in four years. And his 16 NCAA appearances during his 17-season stint at Texas gives him 19 tournament berths in the last 20 years.

Dating to 1995, every four-year player Barnes has coached has made at least three trips to the NCAA Tournament.

Not only do his players find themselves perennially positioned to play for national championships, but they also carry themselves with a top-25 swagger. Over the last 17 years, Barnes’ teams have spent 180 total weeks in the Associated Press Top 25, including 84 weeks in the Top 10. His Texas squad earned the program’s first-ever No. 1 national ranking on Jan. 11, 2010. And he had previously coached Clemson to a No. 2 national ranking–the highest in that school’s history–during the 1996-97 campaign.

On the flipside, Barnes has collected 96 career wins over Top-25 opponents. And his squads have toppled Top-10 teams a total of 34 times.

Nationally respected in player development, Barnes is the only coach in the nation that can claim two different National Players of the Year in the last 13 seasons (T.J. Ford in 2003 and Kevin Durant in 2007). Barnes also produced four consensus first-team All-Americans and three National Freshman of the Year honorees.

Barnes has produced 23 total NBA Draft picks, including 13 first-round selections. Durant — who refers to Barnes as “more than a coach,” but also a “father figure” — was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. Durant has won an NBA Most Valuable Player Award, four NBA scoring titles, the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, and an Olympic gold medal.

A native of Hickory, N.C., Barnes was born on July 17, 1954. He was a standout player at Hickory High, from which he graduated in 1973. Barnes moved on to Lenoir-Rhyne College (Hickory, N.C.), where he lettered for three seasons and won the Captain’s Award for Leadership as both a junior and senior.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from Lenoir-Rhyne in 1977 and was named the college’s Distinguished Alumnus in 1997. Barnes was inducted into the Lenoir-Rhyne College Hall of Fame on Oct. 5, 2002, and received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Lenoir-Rhyne on May 7, 2005.

He and his wife, Candy — who is also a Hickory native — have a son, Nick (born Oct. 3, 1984), and a daughter, Carley (born Jan. 9, 1988). Carley and her husband, Josh Lickteig, have two children: 7-year-old Avery and 4-year-old Caleb

Tennessee Valley Authority to open visitor centers Saturday

Now that spring has arrived, the Tennessee Valley Authority will be opening visitor centers this Saturday.

The centers are located at: Fontana Dam near Bryson City, North Carolina ,Norris Dam near Knoxville, Raccoon Mountain/Laurel Point near Chattanooga, Kentucky Dam near Grand Rivers, Kentucky, and Wilson Dam in Muscle Shoals, Alabama

All five facilities offer information about TVA history, how TVA operates its electric system and how TVA manages the Tennessee River and its tributaries.

TVA, the nation’s largest public utility, serves 9 million people in parts of Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

Senate to Decide Fate of Insure Tennessee

Republican Governor Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessee proposal is up for a key vote in the Senate Commerce Committee on Today.

The proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans was defeated in a special legislative session last month. But the measure was resurrected on a 6-2 vote in the Senate Health Committee last week.

Prospects for the measure appear far less optimistic in the commerce panel, though Haslam has been trying to make his case with individual committee members.

Under the two-year pilot program, hospitals would cover the $74 million state share to draw down $2.8 billion in federal Medicaid funds. Many opponents of the measure have been unable to overcome their trepidation about voting for a program tied to President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Veterans Court Could Open In Rutherford County

Officials in Murfreesboro plan to meet this week to iron out details of a court being developed specifically to serve veterans.

The court could open this fall.

Commissioners in Rutherford County voiced their approval in February for the launch of the initiative, which will initially serve veterans who end up in the court system for drug or driving under the influence offenses.

It is among the latest communities to begin developing a court to cater to veterans. The communities of Shelby, Montgomery and Davidson counties received a grant late last year to develop a similar system.

Trey King, who directs the Rutherford county’s drug court program, and General Sessions Court Judge Ben Hall MacFarlin will oversee the veteran’s treatment court with assistance from veterans, who will act as counselors.

TBI Investigating Young Child’s Death

Authorities are investigating the weekend death of a 5-year-old boy in Marion county. The severely injured child was found Saturday at a home in Whitwell. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for now is stopping short of calling the incident a homicide. TBI spokesman Josh Devine says investigators are working to determine how the boy sustained his injuries. An autopsy has been ordered. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports no arrests had been made in connection with the incident as of Monday. Devine says additional evidence is being collected concerning the death.

City’s Right to Ban Weapons in Parks

Without debate, the State House overwhelmingly voted Monday to strip away a city government’s right to ban weapons in municipal parks. Majority Republican lawmakers voted 65-21 to allow guns in parks, despite opposition from city and school leaders as well as Republican Governor Bill Haslam. Democrats proposed several amendments, including efforts to opt out some cities, ban guns on Sundays and religious holidays, or require local referendums to undo local gun bans. All were rejected along party lines. The Senate takes up it’s version Wednesday. About 70 cities in Tennessee, including Murfreesboro and Manchester now ban weapons in municipal parks.

Fruit and Vegetable Farmers may Qualify for Reimbursement

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is administering a reimbursement program for farmers who grow fruits or vegetables and have received Good Agriculture Practices certification.

Those farmers are eligible to receive reimbursement for costs related to certification for field or packing house audits.

Costs that qualify include application fees, inspection costs and inspector travel.

Reimbursements are limited to 50 percent of an individual’s certification costs up to $1,500 until funds are depleted.